BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#399 - "Strangely Dim" by Francesca Battistelli
Francesca chats with Kevin Davis about the song that has roots in the classic hymn, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus."
 


RIAA Certified Gold selling, GMA Dove Awards "Artist of the Year" and "Female Vocalist of the Year," Francesca Battistelli, has released an expanded deluxe edition of her critically acclaimed album, Hundred More Years
 
The Deluxe album features the hits singles "This Is The Stuff," and "Angel By Your Side." This 18 track expanded album includes the original track listing, plus several never-before-released songs including the original demo of "This Is The Stuff" and an incredible re-make of Peter Gabriel's, "In Your Eyes." 
 
I had the great opportunity to interview Francesca about her great new song "Strangely Dim." You may have heard the song on her Hundred More Years tour last fall or on the radio. The single was released on February 5, and the song also appears on the Deluxe Edition of Hundred More Years
 
Expanding on her critically acclaimed album, Francesca offers several never-before-released songs to inspire and encourage you.
 
It's my prayer that my "behind the song" devotionals will encourage readers and be an influence to people's individual walks with Christ, or maybe to even lead people to Christ if they haven't yet made the decision.
 
Here's how it all started. The story is my pastor challenged me to consider "fasting" from music during the Lenten season leading up to Easter, 2008 and he knew my testimony that I credit my salvation due to the biblical messages "behind the songs" in Christian music leading me to seek Jesus. My pastor suggested that I needed to give up my idol (music) and focus on God's Word and perhaps write about the biblical messages behind my favorite songs in Christian music. 
 
I approached NRT Founder Kevin McNeese with the idea and he graciously agreed to post my original article. Five years later almost to the day, this is my 399th devotional.
 
This is my ninth "behind the song" devotional interview with Francesca, making her my most featured female artist in my series over the past five years. Here are the answers to the questions I asked Francesca.
 
Regarding "Strangely Dim" what's the main message of the song to you personally? 
 
"Strangely Dim" is actually inspired by my dad. He's in a place in his life where he is just waiting on God for a lot of things. We've all been there to some extent. I've found in my life that if I'm looking down at the things I can't control and the things that stress me out, I can get discouraged. Just like the old hymn said, if I turn my eyes on Jesus, that's where hope is, that's where clarity is, and that's where He is. 
 
No matter where you are, if you focus on Him, the things of this earth will pass away. I know that I have the type of personality that tends to get ahead of myself and worry about the future. I tend to not enjoy the moment because I'm too busy worried about what's going to happen. I can get distracted and bogged down by my circumstances. When I started writing the song, it was really hitting home with me. I felt like it was something I needed to say and we all really need to hear.
 
Do you have any Bible verses you used to write the song?
 
Psalm 119:37: Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.
 
Matthew 6:25: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
 
…and Romans 12:2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
 
What is the takeaway message from the song?
 
The Lord would not have us be focusing on the cares of this world. I love that "strangely dim" comes right from the hymn "Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus." The whole concept comes from that song. I love this song because it reminds me daily that God is the source of my peace, and even when things are chaotic all around me, He is in control. 
 
It can be so hard to be still and not wrestle with making things happen, but God's timing is perfect. Yielding our lives and our desire for control to Him brings a peace that makes our doubts and fear fade away. When we truly fix our hearts and our minds and our thoughts on the Lord, all the things that takes our attention and our hearts away from Him start to fade away. 
 
I've found that by even taking a fast from social media, it allows me to get away and really hear from the Lord. It's been amazing when I've thought about all of the things that I've allowed to creep into my life and take me away from Him. All of that stuff is growing "strangely dim" and I'm remembering to return to my first love.
Lyrics:
I've had all these plans piled up sky high
A thousand dreams on hold
And I don't know why,
I got a front row seat
To the longest wait
And I just can't see
Past the things I pray
Today

But when I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don't look around
Any place I'm in
Grows strangely dim

Sometimes where I stand
On this narrow road
Is in a raging storm
Or a valley low
But oh

When I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don't look around
Any place I'm in
Grows strangely dim

I don't know I don't know
What tomorrow may hold
But I know, but I know
That You're holding it all
So no matter what may come

I'm gonna fix my eyes on all that You are
'Til every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
Let all my worries fade
And fall to the ground
I'm gonna seek Your face
And not look around
Til place I'm in
Grows strangely dim
 
The song is a great example of the cohesive theme of the album, which is about trusting in God's plans for your life regardless of circumstances. The progress of sanctification--dying to sin more and more--and living to righteousness more and more, is the carrying on this renewing work, till it is perfected in glory. The great enemy to this renewal is conformity to this world.
 
Hymns of the faith like "Turn Your Eyes" have a perfectly poetic biblical description of God and are filled with piercingly difficult truths to believe all of the time. When you put yourself under a microscope and examine whether you really believe all of the words of this great song, you'll find that it will challenge your faith and how closely you are walking with God. 
 
"Strangely Dim" also gives insight into Francesca's walk as a fellow believer. It's very relatable to listeners, especially for those who struggle with control issues and perfectionism. We are called as Christians to believe in the freedom that we have in the Cross of Jesus. We are free from our fears, addictions, insecurities and perfectionism. Jesus came to die for us so that we can all truly live in Him. 
 
At a time when financial stress and looking for security in earthly things is shaky at best, I can lay down my worry and plans and put my hope in God. What a great reminder as we prepare our hearts for Easter! 
 
(You can listen to the song here.)

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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